Indian Spiced Fried Rice: Kindergarten ups and downs

For JD – your effort is beyond measure and perfection isn’t necessary.

Son started his kindergarten a few weeks back, and it’s been a whirl of fun and excitement for him on his own.  He’s socially blossoming, making new friends, and learning new routines, and in his class just thriving in ways I never imagined.  He’s writing stories (with tons of crazy spelling, but a great plot) and for the most part, his kindergarten experience is the stuff of his dreams.  He can’t wait to go back the next day, and every day he comes home from school with something wonderful that happened.  A lot of it has to do around “recess” when he’s playing with his friends, but often he mentions curriculum and content that excites him.  The author Mo Willems.  The sounds that the letter A makes.  Writing a story all on his own.  Figuring out how to properly write the number 4, using a rhyme learned in class.  (Incidentally, if you don’t know Mo Willems yet, you’re missing out.  Son’s obsession with Mo is definitely preferable to the one he has for Ninjago.)

I have a slightly different role to play in kindergarten as I am a classroom volunteer.  I spend most of my time in class trying to figure out how to help those students who are struggling.  I’m in there as an educator, a re-mediator, an extra set of hands, and an additional set of eyes on the kids who share the same space as Son.  I love teaching, I love students so it’s a natural fit for me, but it’s also a huge weight on my shoulders, because there are so many needs in the classroom.

Today, after feeling pretty daunted with a series of students that have caused me some alarm, I really did, just want to give up.  After all, I’m not paid.  The job is too big and pretty hard to imagine success on the other side.  But I found some words of strength from the unconventional but brilliant Elon Musk.  On perseverance he says, “If something is important enough, even if the odds are still against you, you should still do it.”

And it reminded me – learning is that important.  Getting kids to read is just that important.  Helping a child figure out how to spell their name, learn how to add, figure out how to behave, manage to stay still are all important tasks, often times with the odds against me.  And I was cheered.  I only have to try my best.  I trust that God will do the rest.

I made this Indian spiced rice for myself, since making Indian food these days seems near impossible as I don’t have the time and energy to invest into it.  I was surprised how my desperate need for Indian collaborated so wonderfully into this dish.  It comes together super quickly because that’s the nature of fried rice, but has enough richness of flavor and complexity of textures to make it a lot more interesting than just regular fried rice.  It’s the reminder that when you want something enough, you can come up with some pretty interesting ways to get it.  I’m going to apply that to the teaching I do tomorrow – to push myself to work harder, to think out of the box, to reach more students, and try greater things for the achievement of that thing that is against the odds.

Indian Spiced Fried Rice
Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons garam masala or you can use curry powder
½ cup onions, chopped fine
1 cup carrots, chopped fine
1 cup cooked chicken or leftover protein of your choice
4 to 5 cups cooked basmati, jasmine, or other long grain “fluffy” rice style (do not use short grain rice or sushi rice)
½ cup chopped scallions
1 cup chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

Heat, over medium high heat, a heavy fry pan large enough to accommodate all the rice, and add two tablespoons of oil.  All at once add garam masala, onions, and carrots.  Cook until the vegetables are tender and the onions are translucent, about 4 minutes.  Season with salt.  Add chicken and toss until chicken is also coated with garam masala and oil.  Once chicken is fully coated, add a bit more oil if necessary, and add cooked rice all at once, tossing to incorporate the flavors all together.   Once rice is fully coated and vegetables and chicken are evenly distributed, add chopped scallions and chopped cilantro.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Serve hot!

Printable recipe

Quick satisfaction.  If only life were as easy.

And in case you aren’t familiar with Mo Willems, this title is pretty funny.  Throws the idea of the fox eating all the animals for a loop.

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